Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Winkler, Manitoba

We spent two nights in Winkler as we still had a few things we wanted them to do. One of which was to check the seals on the back cargo doors. We have been having a lot of leakage in rain storms. After a lot of fixing and checking, they found the leak in the rear door. The flange had been bent and water was leaking into the cargo area. That was eventually fixed and we decided to stay one more night in the customer parking lot (with water and electricity connection) and leave for Toronto on September 1st. I was very happy as I was able to pick up wi-fi internet right inside the RV. Triple E has a good internet service in their customer lounge which was just on the other side of the building wall.

We are planning to drive and see how far we get, then look for a campground. Early to bed on the night of the 31st. Planning to get an early start on Wednesday morning.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Montana, North Dakota, Winkler and our motor home

A very early start this morning because we have a lot of ground to cover. We are going to try and be in Winkler by tonight. I had emailed Triple E and asked them to park the motor home in the customer parking so that we could just get into it and settle up with them in the morning. I don't want to go into another cabin, campground or motel. Just want my own bed, in my own home.

The day was cool and wet most of the way. We drove through Montana which was not what I had expected. I thought Montana was all mountainous. Not so. The Eastern end of Montana is rolling countryside, with the occasional small range of hills. A lot of open grassland. There are some interesting rock formations and also quite a lot of history with the Battle of Little Bighorn, but we will have to put those things onto the agenda for another trip. The one thing we did was see the most amazing rainbow that stretched right over the road. Just beautiful.
Full rainbow across the road in Montana

Strange rock formations. Montana

Flat countryside, eastern Montana

Into North Dakota, a quick stop at Minot for lunch and then up into Manitoba. It was getting very late and we were anxious not to get to the border crossing too late. All the smaller crossings between the US and Canada are not open 24 hours and we did not want to go all the over to I29. So we took the first turn North and entered Canada at a very quiet, rural border post. No wait and after the border guard took one look at our jam packed car, he just waved us through.  As it turned out, the small borders only close at 10 pm. We went through at about 5:30 pm.

Leaving Montana

..and into North Dakota

The geographical centre of North America, Rugby, North Dakota

First thing we did in Canada was stop at Tim Horton's coffee for our favourite cuppa Joe and then we went to Triple E and there she was, parked in the Customer Parking, all plugged in, white, washed, polished and shiny with the new panels at the bottom. What a difference! Inside, all the work we asked for was done. We had a new sink installed, a flip up counter in the galley and new taps in the kitchen and bathroom. They were unable to install a new convection/microwave as the space allotted to a microwave was not big enough for a convection to be installed. Not a big problem as we have a small portable convection oven anyway. They also installed an adapter on the motor home propane tank to allow us to run any of our propane appliances off the main tank.

Our Regal at the Triple E factory in Winkler, Manitoba

It was with joyful hearts that we unpacked and settled into our home. It poured with rain all night.

Michael in the bright orange poncho, getting the Regal hooked up for our 2 night stay. We had water and electricity in a feww site at the factory.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mammoth Hot Springs and on into Montana

As Mammoth Hot Springs was on the Northern route out of Yellowstone, we decided to  go there on our way out of the park. This is the largest know carbonate depositing hot spring in the world. It quite something to see. It seems as if a whole hill has been created by the hot spring. There are terraces down the hillside as well ans hot streams of mineral laden water that run down the hill. Spectacular. In the same area is Roaring Mountain where there are a lot of fumaroles or dry springs that just blow super heated air out as the water has evaporated before reaching the surface. Incredible. The mountain does roar! After seeing Mammoth, we drove along a small road that took us past an orange mound. There are hot springs on top of it, and one that looks just like a bubbling coffee percolator. The orange mound itself, looked like a big orange Wookie (Star Wars). Very interesting.

We left Yellowstone knowing that we will be back as we really only scratched the surface. You need to spend at least 3 to 4 days there, but we'll leave that for another visit.

We travelled to Miles City in Montana and went straight to the KOA but I had not reserved a cabin and they (all 2 of them) were all reserved. Didn't fancy the tent, so we found a nice Motel in the town and booked in. A little bonus was that the only non smoking room they had was a handicap suite, so we got a huge room with an enormous bathroom. Slept well as another boomer thundered outside.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Yellowstone National Park

This morning we excitedly got ready for our day in Yellowstone Park. We had a taste of what we were to see yesterday. So a quick breakfast and a lunch packed for the day. Thank goodness for our Koolatron cooler. It has done just sterling duty keeping our food cold!

The West Yellowstone KOA is wonderful. They have a big camp kitchen where there is a covered area with electric cook tops and wash up sinks. The internet is good and the grounds are immaculate. It is just a short drive to the town of West Yellowstone and then into the Park. We took the first leg slow, stopping to see the Elk in the Madison River Valley. We saw bison later in the day.

We saw Old Faithful erupt. The first leg that we did was on the way to Old Faithful in the South West portion of the park. We stopped at a few view spots on the way and got there at about midday. We found out that the geyser was scheduled to erupt about 30 minutes after we got there and there were people already starting to assemble. The fact that it was raining and the sky was black did not seem to hinder anyone, so we thought we had better find a view spot, which we did, right at the front. The benches were wet, so everyone stood. As we were waiting a ranger came out and gave us a talk about geysers and about the whole area in general. As she finished her talk, we noticed that OF was starting to spit up water and then suddenly, only a few minutes beyond the time they had predicted, the geyser erupted right up into the air. Unfortunately, as it was so cool and damp that the actual fountain of water was mostly obscured by steam, but we have seen it. After the eruption ended, the rangers came out and warned us all that there was a  severe storm warning for the area.

To tell you everything we saw would be impossible. This is the most surreal and beautiful place. We loved every part of this park, even the huge thunder and hail storm that we experienced later in the afternoon. We saw geysers, hot springs, craters, turquoise pools and whatever this wonderful place has to show. I am very glad that the huge caldera that is under Yellowstone did not choose today to erupt. We saw all too well what an eruption of a caldera could do at Craters of the Moon!

 We were forced to pull over into a rest area during the storm and after it ended, we drove to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, where I took a ton of photos between raindrops. What a spectacular Canyon! There are two waterfalls on the Yellowstone River and over a very long time, the canyon was carved out. The soil is multicolored because of all the geologic action that has taken place there. By now the rain was starting to end so I got some good photos as we drove along the rim road. After the canyon, we headed home because we knew had to get through a big construction area, where there is a half hour delay each way. The trip to Mammoth Hot Springs can wait until tomorrow after we leave the KOA, heading toward Manitoba.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Grand Tetons National Park

Another early morning departure from Jackson and we were off to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. My American mother urged us to go there if we could as it is such a spectacular range. Spectacular because there are no foothills. The mountains just rise straight up from the valley floor. We were a bit dubious about the weather as it was quite cool and cloudy when we left. We thought that this was going to be a rainy day. As luck would have it, the sky cleared and by the time we got to the National Park, the sky had cleared and we just had puffy white clouds in a lovely blue sky. Virginia was right! These mountains are spectacular. Click on the heading for this blog to see the National Park website. We spent most of the day driving through Grand Teton National Park, taking the scenic route and stopping at view sites and taking our time. Straight after Grand Tetons we kept driving North into Yellowstone National Park. We stopped at a few places on the way, but pretty much drove right up through the park to West Yellowstone to the KOA there. We had a cabin booked for two nights in West Yellowstone.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Craters of the Moon and Jackson/Snake River KOA

We packed up and set off early in the morning to make the most of the day. The drive to Craters of the Moon National Monument was only about 25 kms. Before we even got there we started seeing the evidence of volcanic action.

Craters of the Moon is an incredible place where there was volcanic action in the past. If you click on the post heading, you will be taken to the National Park Services web page that can give you much more information that I can put into the blog.

We did most of the short hikes, and went into 2 caves. A short way into the Indian Tunnel and right into Beauty Cave. Luckily our friend, Tom, who had been there about a month before, advised us to take a flashlight. Beauty cave is pitch black inside!

One of the short walks was to the spatter cones and we were quite bemused to see that one of the cones, appropriately called Snow cone, still had snow right at the bottom.

We left the park after lunch and began the long trek to Jackson, Wyoming where we have a cabin booked at the Jackson/Snake River KOA.

The trip through Idaho from the park was quite interesting. We went from the Snake River Plain in Idaho, through Idaho Falls and into Wyoming. After our last experience in Wyoming when we almost froze to death we were very happy to be going to a cabin.

The drive up to Jackson was great! The scenery along the Snake River was very pastoral, with wide valleys and green hillsides. We missed the sign for the KOA and ended up right in Jackson. Very kitschy, expensive little town. There is a building code and most of the buildings are built in the log cabin type architecture. One main road through the middle of town so it was very VERY busy. We had to do a U turn and go back. Then we saw the sign tucked away almost behind a sign for white water rafting on the snake river.

We were happy with the cabin and the fact that they had excellent free wi-fi service. The cabins all face the Snake and there are steps down to the river. The tent sites are all down on the river bank. Don't know how smart that would be if there was a sudden storm up river! To book a campsite, you have to also book a rafting trip.

We had very friendly neighbours and ended spending the evening sitting around the fire with Sunshine and Brett Gearhart from Johnstown in Colorado. They have a daughter who goes out to Mozambique from time to time as a missionary working for a Christian Organization there. We were able to put them in touch with Mike and Joan Hanchett, who were our pastors in South Africa. They now live in Denver, Colorado. We also gave them the web site for my Brother-in-law, Simon who has a South African Blog. Hopefully they can get some info about the African scene. We instantly made a connection. Again we went to bed, secure in the thought that the cabin would be quiet and warm

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Arco KOA, Idaho

We drove up into Idaho to Arco. This town was the first town in North America to be powered by nuclear technology.  We got to Arco by 3:00 pm and checked into the cabin we had reserved the night before. The KOA at Arco is absolutely beautiful It is quiet, clean and in a very rural setting. We booked in to a cabin which was very comfortable. Not quite hotel comfortable, but warm and dry all the same.

We settled in and went to the ice-cream social. We met the owner lady who had bought the campground just a year or so ago. She and her husband have done a wonderful job of making this a GREAT KOA.

Early to bed because we were both exhausted. Off to Craters of the Moon National Monument in the morning. The heat continues and we are very thankful that it cooled down considerably as soon as the sun went down. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Leaving Oceanside and up into Utah

We were very sad to leave Oceanside this morning. The trip was long and hot and as we drove right through Las Vegas we wondered where we would stop for the night. We chose Cedar City, Utah. The KOA campground was awful! The RV sites were OK, but the tenting sites were just pitiful. Anyway we pitched the tent, made the bed up and then went out for dinner. We found a "home cooking" restaurant up the road and the food was very basic but very tasty. Back to the tent and the NOISE!! The tenting area was right next to the main road through town. Who knew that the trucks all take a short cut through town. It was intolerable. We were up early to get the heck out of there. We were up before the other campers.

Oceanside, California

We had 10 wonderful days in Oceanside. Most of the time was spent shopping at outlets, doing some sight seeing and celebrating Virginia's 90th birthday.  Virginia took us to the Pageant of the Masters which was amazing. It is an art show combined with a pageant where people are dressed up and posed as real life Masters paintings. We thoroughly enjoyed this. Virginia had booked us in to a hotel in Laguna Beach which was very nice as we did not have to use our car to go to the pageant. We were able to leave the car at the hotel and use the free tram system that Laguna offers in the summer. We just hopped onto the tram right outside the hotel, went to the pageant and then the tram took right back to the hotel afterward. Most enjoyable. The next day, August 20th was Virginia's birthday. We spent the day driving up the coast and seeing some of the sites. One of which was the Roger's Gardens which is a nursery, but also a wonderful place to go. We had fun trying on big floppy hats, looking at plants and browsing in their store.

On the evening of the 21st We, Virginia and some of the Popes went to dinner at John's Neighborhood Bar and Grill in Vista. The food was outstanding. Michael had steak and I had smoked salmon, capers and linguine in a cream sauce. Yummy!

Michael and I took a drive up to the top of Mount Soledad in La Jolla. What views! and of course we went to Oceanside Beach. It was very hot, but the water was icy!

It was with very sad hearts that we left on the morning of August 24th. We will be back in January/February

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Our Facebook Photo Abum

To see the photos of our trip go to our Facebook Album until I can get photos posted on here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday the 13th - Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California

Yes, we really did go through all those states. Early start as soon as we were defrosted! The trip through Utah was beautiful! As my sister says, Utah is a strange and beautiful State. Almost as soon as we entered Utah we were in the area known as the Colorado Plateau. This is an area of outstanding beauty. The colours in the rocks are anything from grey to salmon, peach and cream. Back in 1999 Michael and I toured the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon. All wonderfully scenic National Parks, and all different in their own way. We decided not to go back this trip, but we will most definitely spend some time here when there are not so many crowds. Maybe in February....Brrrr.

 Well, we drove right through Utah, missing out Salt Lake City and driving through Provo, and before we knew it we were in Arizona. The very top left corner of Arizona and a short time later we were entering Nevada. Apart from the Grand Canyon, we are not terribly enamored with Nevada. Of course we have not been up to Reno or Lake Tahoe yet!

As we approached Las Vegas the temperature started rising dramatically and pretty soon it was 43C (109F). The drive through Las Vegas is always harrowing, but on a Friday afternoon, when the world comes to Las Vegas it was very busy! Smart Alec, Dee decided to go to Henderson to find accommodation. That didn't work too well either and so we decided, after heading in the wrong direction, that we would just press on into California. Back on the I 15 and off we went. The best laid schemes of mice and men......... Not far out of Las Vegas the traffic ground to a halt and there we sat for almost 2 hours, crawling forward. Over 11 miles of back up all the way to Primm at the Nevada/California State line!! Someone had raced down the truck lane in his Ford F150 and, despite the warnings of road work ahead, drove at high speed, crashing head on into a heavy road construction vehicle. Of course he was killed instantly and so it took a very long time to clear the road. By now it was dark, so we decided that it would be prudent to call ahead to Barstow KOA to book a cabin. Too hot for tent camping! I only had my Canadian phone which is pre-paid, so what the heck, the call was made and I was on hold for quite a while and then I got the KOA person to call me back and eventually we got the cabin reserved. When we get to the KOA all I had to do was to call a number for someone to bring me the key. Well, I had used up all my time on my phone so when we got there, luckily, someone had driven in right behind us and I asked to borrow his phone. He let me use it and then told me he was from the Yukon. I hope I didn't use up too much of his time!! My cost on my cell phone was $30 for the time it took to make the reservation!!

We were absolutely stunned at the number of people that were travelling to Las Vegas from the LA area! The highway looked like it was rush hour. Bumper to bumper traffic heading North. Craziness!

We got into the cabin which was very nice, with a full bathroom, kitchenette, TV etc. We soon found out that the room was about 50C inside as no-one had bothered to turn on the AC. It took 2 hours to cool down. The fridge was about 60C inside as it was broken and the there was no hot water for a shower.  Nevertheless, having travelled more than 1000Kms that day, we had a cool shower and both slept like logs. Up early, for a quick look around and a nice breakfast. I had a quick "discussion" with the office staff about the deficiencies and received a 10% discount on my nearly $100 bill for the 1 night.  Then we set off on the last leg, of this portion of our trip, to Oceanside.

California always gives us the feeling that we are "home". It is so much like Durban in South Africa where we had lived prior to immigrating to Canada. So we got to Virginia's in the early afternoon, just as she was about to head out to a historical society function.  Got settled in, unpacked and enjoyed not having to race off to our next destination.

Coming up, some highlights of our stay in Oceanside.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

On into Wyoming

We managed to get away quite early and set off for Wyoming. The scenery in Wyoming is very mixed. Once we got away from the Badlands and the Black Hills of South Dakota, Wyoming flattened out again to miles and miles of flattish prairie. We saw some ranches that just went on forever and there were cattle in some of the fields, but because the ranches are so huge, it looked as if the farms just had a few animals. Midday, the wind started picking up and very soon we were battling a 45 mph headwind. It was so windy that we saw an 18 wheeler that had been blown right off the highway into the median. Luckily it was a wide median, so there were no injuries on either side of the road.

We had almost crossed the whole state when we decided to pull into Lyman KOA. We asked the young man at the desk to give us a site which was protected from the wind. What did he do? put us on a site that was at 45 degrees to the wind. It was hilarious trying to put the tent up. bags were flying away and Michael had to chase after them. We tried pegging the tent down before getting it up into position (we have a pop-up tent), but that too failed and eventually we went and asked to be put at the back of the campground to get the protection of the hedge on the Western end. The tent was erected, the mattress was inflated and everything was working a lot better. This site had an electric outlet, so we were able to charge everything up. The lamp, the battery pack and my computer. The Koolatron fridge was plugged in and positioned outside the tent. The wind dropped and we were able to cook dinner then we went to bed quite early and set the alarm to wake us up at midnight to see the Perseid Meteor Shower.

Well, it got colder and colder. The sky was absolutely clear and the stars were incredible, but by midnight we were awakened because the mattress had deflated to the extent that our hip bones were right on the floor. Mattress inflated again and a quick look outside to see if there were any meteors. I saw 2 or 3 but they were so fast that I soon lost interest and (also because it was now 9C) decided that it was time to go back to bed. 3:00 am awake again because the mattress was once again deflated. Pumped up and back to bed. Now every time we got up it took about 1/2 an hour to get warm again! 6:00 am, mattress deflated again 3C outside and ICE on the fridge and on the car. It was bitterly cold. Must have been at freezing point and because the sun was starting to rise, it had actually warmed up to 3C!!! Of course we had no warm clothes, just one fleece jacket each. We had slept fully dressed in our day clothes and our fleece jackets. A quick early breakfast and then pack the car and set off. Next stop Nevada.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park and Needles Highway

We had a good breakfast of eggs and bacon and set off for Mount Rushmore. The route from Badlands KOA took us through more of the Badlands State Park, and we took the dirt road route through the more remote part of the park in the hopes of seeing buffalo. We saw one in the distance, that was all.

One thing that I have not mentioned is the number of motorbikes we saw on the road. Thousands of them. We found out later that there is the annual motor bike rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. This year is the 70th anniversary, hence the number of attendees. We heard that anywhere from 500,000 to 800,000 bikers were at the event. I can believe it!

When we got to Mount Rushmore we were almost crowded out of the parking lot by motor bikes! A $10 fee to park and the Monument is actually free. It is very impressive, with granite pillars all the way up to the viewing area. On each pillar are the names and flags of 4 States. Each one occupying the 4 faces of the pillars.

The view of the carvings is very awe inspiring. What a feat!! We were there about 30 minutes, took lots of photos and then left. After the stop at Mount Rushmore, we took the Needles highway to Custer State Park.

The primary reason that we went into Custer State Park was to see the wildlife - buffalo. We drove the wildlife route and saw a few buffalo in a far off grove of trees, a couple of deer and 2 wild donkeys.  After Custer we drove to the statue of Crazy Horse that is still a work in progress. We took a couple of photos, but did not go into the park.

A quick drive back to Rapid City and then pressed on West. We stopped at Spearfish KOA, which was chock a block full of motorcycles and bikers and their families. camped in all manner of camping gear from tents all the way up to million dollar motor homes. The campground owners were absolutely great and managed to find us a corner in their overflow section (an open field) and charged us a discount rate, which was nice.

South Dakota

Not much more to see in the central portion of South Dakota. But as we approached Badlands National Park we noticed the topography starting to change. The flat landscape was starting to crinkle up and so we decided to go into Badlands National Park. We bought an annual pass so that we can go to all the national parks we want to for the year and not have to pay any more. Badlands is amazing. With very unique scenery. We drove around the whole park and then decided to stop for the night in Badlands/White River KOA. It was so hot that we opted to take one of their cabins instead of go into a tent. Good choice. It was cool and comfortable. We met some really interesting people in the campground. One guy bought an old C Class motor home and is doing it up. He has painted it black, which is quite strange, but it does match the trailer that he pulls behind. We also met Barry from Kentucky who is travelling in his motor coach with his wife and dog. They carry Kayaks on their toad. Interesting guy with some great political views. It was a good day all round, culminating in a refreshing swim in the pool.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Handing our home over to the factory

This morning we handed the RV over to the folks at Triple E. They made a note of all the places where they needed to repair the fiberglass. We also asked them to replace the microwave with a convection/microwave. Replace the kitchen sink. Attach a flip up counter to the end of the galley and put a fitting on the gas tank so that we can use it for the barbecue etc. Gonna cost a bit, but all these things will help make our home more comfortable.

We left Winkler at about 1030 and drove West to the nearest border crossing, down into North Dakota. We took some side roads to get down to the I 90 so most of the day was taken up with getting through the one state. We stopped for the night at a Motel on Rte 85. Very sparse pickings for accommodation. North Dakota is very flat and full of farms growing sunflowers.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Off to Winkler, Manitoba

The trip to Winkler was quick and we got to the Triple E factory at about 3 pm. The temperature was 37C (100F), luckily the factory has some places where you can plug in the motor home and has water so we were able to turn on the AC. Ahhh the luxury. We spent the afternoon getting our stuff ready for tent camping and putting everything away. There were about 4 motor homes there by the time we were ready to go to sleep. I am going to miss our little home.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

West Fargo, North Dakota

This morning we left Moorhead KOA and headed in to town to get a haircut. We stopped at Great Clips, where we parked for about an hour while I got the haircut, we did some grocery shopping and got some wine. We had arranged to stay the night at Debbie Atkins-Schons house in West Fargo because I refused to stay any longer at the KOA. So we found her house very easily and disconnected the car and reversed onto the driveway. It was so hot and humid with the temp sitting at about 37C (100F). Lovely to be in the air conditioned comfort of her house.

Many years ago, back in Yellowwood Park, Natal, South Africa I had given Debbie and her brother, Wade, swimming lessons and had become quite friendly with her mom as well. Wade was very friendly with my son as they were in the same class at school. Then in about 1984, Debbie's father had got  a job in North Dakota. The family left and we lost contact. Many years later, when we had immigrated to Canada, I found Pam Atkins phone number and called her. We had a lovely chat and updated each other on our families. We lost contact again. Forward to about 2008 or 2009 and through Facebook, I find Debbie, who informed me that her brother Wade, and her mother, Pam, had both died tragically. What a shock that was to me! To add to the tragedy, her father Steve was battling cancer. I vowed then and there that one day I would get to North Dakota to see Debbie. When the opportunity came to travel through Fargo on our way to Winkler, Manitoba, I jumped at the idea of adding a visit to Debbie. Now here we were, staying with her and meeting her 2 lovely children. It was a very special night. Laughing, crying, reminiscing and consoling. We all went out to dinner at Applebee's which was great! Debbie was even gracious enough to give up her bed for us.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Indiana Dunes State Park to Moorhead KOA

Today was a long drive. The biggest hurdle was getting through Chicago. As we came through the city at about 11 am it wasn't too bad, but man those highways and toll roads!! We missed one toll booth and now have to send the money by mail, within the next week. What a pain!! Once we were out of Chicago it was pretty plain sailing, except for a big delay because of Obama's stimulus dollars at work on the highways. This holdup was in the region of St Paul, Minnesota. Wisconsin is very much like rural Ontario. Minnesota starts hilly but begins to get quite flat the further north you go. We crossed the Mississippi River in Minneapolis-St Paul

We decided to stop for the night at Moorhead KOA, and then drive the few miles to West Fargo, to visit a friend, the next day. What a dump!! This is by far the worst KOA we have ever stayed in. We will NOT be returning. It was off the I94 on a very dusty dirt road, which curved around and the campground was right next to the highway. The sites were tiny and the one they gave us was right on top of the site behind us so those people were almost camped in our living room. Our site was so close to the dirt road inside the campground that every time someone drove past, the dust was kicked up into our MH. While I was cooking supper it happened 3 times and I ended up yelling at the louts who were camping on the group site and every so often would send one of their buddies out in a car, presumably to buy more beer. In the morning, as I was about to step out, I almost stepped into a "Gift" left by some passing pooch. Lovely.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Monday August 2nd was departure day and we left at about 10:00 am, heading West toward Sarnia, Ontario and border crossing into Michigan.

The trip was uneventful except for a very long delay at the border. We were going to stay overnight at Camping World just outside Detroit, but decided to go to a Passport America campground instead. So we called Walnut Hills Family Campground and booked in there. The Passport America price is $15 a night which was great. In the end we decided to stay 2 nights.

Walnut Hills Family Campground is a very big campground in the town of Durand, Michigan. There are a lot of seasonal campers and a few overnight sites. The swimming pond did not look too inviting, but for $15 per night, who can complain! The washrooms (showers and toilets) were immaculate and quite new. The showers were free and hot. No laundry. No internet. The sites are very close together and have water and electricity. For an extra fee you can have the honey sucker come and empty your black and grey tanks. It was stinking hot and so humid, so it was nice to have electricity and that air conditioner on the motor home worked almost solidly for 36 hours! The amount of water that ran off the roof from the AC was like a fountain it was so humid. Not surprising as we were about ½ way between Lakes Huron and Michigan.

Tuesday, August 3rd. We took advantage of our day off and drove up to Frankenmuth. This is a small town in Michigan which was settled by Lutheran missionaries from Bavaria. The Bavarian buildings have been preserved (and added to, I suspect). It is very pretty and we spent the day wandering around, looking at all the touristy stores, eating ice cream and drinking coffee. There are fudge stores where you can get free samples, so we took advantage of this and treated ourselves many times over with taffy, chocolate and cheese samples. Who needs to buy treats??

Back to the campground for a quiet night and a fish and chips dinner.

Wednesday, August 4th We left the campground at Durand at about 1030 after having some difficulty getting the car hitched up. The campground road was so uneven that it took a couple if tries before the arms of the Blue Ox finally snapped into place.

A pretty boring trip to Indiana where the plan was to camp at Indiana Dunes State Park. As soon as we crossed the state line from Michigan into Indiana we stopped at the Visitor Centre and phoned the State Park who told us they were full. The other alternative was the Indiana National Dunes Lakeshore. We got lost trying to find the National Park and asked for directions at a nearby restaurant. The barmaid gave us directions, which turned out to be to the State Park. We stopped at the Administrative offices who very kindly phoned the State Park office and found out that there had been a cancellation and that there was a site for us. Hooray!! We proceeded to the gate and they gave us a site which turned out to be right next to the “Comfort Station” (Showers and wash basins and toilets). Fine with us. It was so hot and humid that we immediately plugged in and turned on the AC!

Indiana Dunes State Park Review

Cost: $10 just to get into the State Park and then $17.50 per day to camp.

Sites: level concrete pads with electricity, 15 to 50 watt. Very nice and not too close to each other.

Amenities: Large Comfort Stations with hot showers. No charge.

Beach: Beautiful white sandy beach on Lake Michigan. Large old pavilion built in art deco style in 1926. Nearby large smoke stacks, belching smoke.

Monday, August 02, 2010


We left the Kruger's house at about 10 and set off for Lake Erie where the competition was being held. When we got there we set up on the group camping site just inside the boundary. The field was quite level so we did not have to do any levelling. We were now camped for 4 days without any hookups. It would be interesting to see if the batteries would last that long. We have 3 deep cycle batteries so we should be OK. There were already several families there, but a whole lot more coming.

The campground was really nice and right on Lake Erie with a small beach just a few feet from the camp. The pavillion where we would be having the competition was between us the beach.

Over the next three days we had a really great time, relaxing, barbequing (braaiing) and just generally hanging out. Thea did not win the competition, but her mutton curry potjie was wonderful. She made bunny chows and her theme was the orange, white and blue of the old SA flag. The orange being the sun, the blue being the ocean and the white being the beaches. It was very good and everyone enjoyed it. August 1st was Thea's birthday and we gave her a book, which I know she will enjoy. It is called The Help and was recommended by my sister, Patricia.